What is a Christian "soothsayer"? I just heard someone say that a Christian soothsayer had predicted a coming event in October but I thought soothsayers were part of New Age. Can you enlighten me on this?
- Candy from California
Soothsayer or prophet? (Part 1)
You are right that the term "soothsayer" properly belongs to the New Age movement, not Christianity. I feel very concerned about blurring the line between New Age and Christianity that seems to be rising up. I also feel the Church gets a failing grade in instructing people about what New Age is and the dangers in picking and choosing beliefs as if going through a cafeteria line.
Much of the Church in America has been slumbering in its pews for the last thirty years as interest in the occult and the supernatural have increased mightily. What was the Church offering? In many cases, dead dry services, musty hymns and platitudes that have little to do with real life. As people started to read horoscopes and listen to psychics and dial 900 numbers the church often snuggled deeper into fellowship dinners and looked the other way.
So, is it any wonder you have this question about a so called "Christian Soothsayer"? The dictionary describes a soothsayer as someone who predicts the future. Well, you might say; isn't there a Holy Spirit gift of prophecy in which the future might be predicted? Didn't Agabus, the prophet, tell the church in Acts 11:27-28 that a great famine was coming throughout the world?
Yes, prophecy is a gift of the Holy Spirit and part of prophecy may be predicting future events. "Soothsayer" is a term not usually used within the Christian church to define that gifting. But the real question is not semantics but what is the power behind the gift?
Next: How can you tell where the power comes from?
Getting to the root (Part 2)
Since God's people are strictly forbidden to indulge in any kind of occult or witchcraft activity, it is essential that we understand when that is operating. Deuteronomy is pretty specific and all inclusive regarding these practices. "There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead." (Deut. 18:10-11)
Verse 14 goes on to say; "For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed such for you." The message to the modern day church is still the same: God has not appointed such for us.
The difference in any supernatural event is this: what (or more accurately "who") is the power source? The power must come from one of two places: God or demonic forces. We notice that in the Old Testament there were many times that signs and wonders were performed by magicians with demonic forces behind them.
One such time was in Egypt when Moses was trying to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. "But Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers; so the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments." (Exodus 7:11)
Yes, the magicians actually operated in power but it was dark power. Likewise, we are warned in the New Testament that this will happen again. "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand." (Mark 13:22-23)
When we hear of a prophet or a soothsayer or a psychic or medium or someone called by any name used by any camp, our question to that one should be: who do you serve?
Next: How do you find out who they serve?
Discerning the source (Part 3)
Recently my daughter called me on her drive to work while listening to a morning talk show. She had tuned in just as someone was saying; "Ask God to heal your heart." She was surprised because she was sure this was not a Christian radio station. Next the radio personality said; "Are you feeling a tingling in your arm right now? "No" the caller responded. "Well, you will start to feel a tingling in the next few days." Then he proceeded to tell the person something about their past.
"Who is this guy Mom? Have you ever heard of him?" She gave me the name and I was at my computer right then so I found his website. He may have been using some of the right lingo but he is a popular psychic who has had "powers" since he was a child. He is not serving Jesus Christ and is not operating in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Just using God's name is not enough. The big question is: who do they say Jesus Christ is? "By this you will know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God." (1 John 4:2-3)
Confessing that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh does not simply mean believing he lived on planet earth. It means confessing that Jesus is God made man - fully God and fully man. It means acknowledging his sacrificial death on the cross as a substitute for our sins.
That scripture is your simple test. It is simple but not necessarily easy. It means reserving judgment about where someone's powers come from until you know enough to make the decision. It might mean work or digging or asking the person if you have that availability. If you ask someone directly and they start hedging or talking about "God" but not Jesus, that's a big red flag.
If you determine the "soothsayer" or "prophet" or whatever is not serving Jesus Christ - get out of there fast. To stay involved is to participate in witchcraft. This is an abomination to the Lord. It is not worth it no matter how flashy, accurate, or spectacular the guy is.
(Note: You may be interested in reading an associated article called Are Prophets Valid Today? for further information on the prophetic ministry.)